Tag Archives: Death

I Don’t Have the Words

I don’t know that I will ever be able to fully articulate how I love my kids. Were it a quantifiable thing I’d give you a number. As it is I don’t think any sophisticated adult has ever improved on the simple claim made by all of us lucky enough to have been loved as a child who have spread our arms wide and said, ‘I love you this much!’

img_4923Charlie is the sweetest boy and he will stop us to make sure we are listening, in the middle of getting ready for bed or when we are cooking or whenever, to tell us, ‘I love you. You’re the best daddy.’ or, ‘Mommy, I love you more than anything ever!’

‘Oh, Charlie.’ I gasp, ‘I love you so much, you are the most wonderful boy.’

I wish words were more evolved. I wish our minds, our full creativity could describe what flows through you as a parent. All of it is extreme. The frustrations, the joys the exhaustion‘s and elation‘s. The simple act of falling for your child, for me an act that happened in an instant, opens a vein you didn’t know you had. It pours from you in every way you can imagine.

I didn’t appreciate the love I was given as a child, not fully at least, until I discovered it from the other side. Until I looked intently at my own kid and marveled and recoiled and felt the bond between us so deeply that it seemed I could reach out and hold it.

img_5026Teddy is my little man and I can’t get over his curiosity. He’s trying all the time that his brother is around to compete, a thing that looks different in a younger brother than an older one. His focus primarily is on his big brother but his quiet moments are the ones that steal my heart. He can smile when your head shares a pillow with his and he wants to tell you about all the things he is thinking. About his ideas and plans, about how much he loves mommy and Charlie and me. He builds big and little bridges to you and everyone one at a time. It’s magic.

On the other side of this newfound entity of love for my kids is an equally newfound fear. One that could only exist in relation to my fondness for these boys. I’m terribly afraid of random tragedy now. While they have opened me up, have cracked the shell around my heart, they have also made me a vigilant hawk. See, I’m now and forevermore aware that there is something infinitely more tragic that can happen than there ever was prior to now.

The first week it paralyzed us to a degree. We had no idea that there was something so awful as the fears of a parent before they hit us. People can’t wait to tell you about the lack of sleep and the magic of babies. They don’t tell you that the most tragic of ends now comes to reside in your resting imagination.

I never so feared my own death before knowing that it would effect my own kids. It never occurred to me to think of it. Now if Karen so much as has a cold I’m worried, only for a moment at a time, but I worry there’s something bigger hidden in her cough. If I’m making dinner and she’s picking up the kids and they are a few minutes late my brain arrives, in an instant, at a place where I can imagine all three of them, struggling in an overturned car, or thrown from the car, scared and alone in their final moments. I know. IT’S AWFUL!!

But as quick as it comes it disappears and I’m back to worrying about whether or not I should use the last of the celery as it’s Charlie’s go to and whether or not T will eat the string beans or should I not bother to make them.

I don’t know what the word would be to describe these things, these rushes between otherworldly levels of joy and dread and monotony, but there should be a word. It seems to be a universal feeling and across the board it seems unknowable until the instant you fall for that kid and unshakable from that point forward.

Grabbing Life, Holding On

img_2962With every age and stage there comes certain signs. Signs that my little boys are running out of time to be ‘little boys’. It’s not such a bad thing. In fact, for them it’s the most exciting thing you could imagine. The walls are starting to come down. Well, perhaps not, but they are certainly moving further and further out and for my sweet rambunctious boys this is very, very exciting. From time to time they will pretend they are babies. Not in any real way, but they will say, ‘I’m a baby…’ in a silly voice, smile, giggle and laugh at the absurdity. They are decidedly little boys and we are accepting as best we can that we’ll never have our babies again.

img_2921Like so many parents before us, we know they will always be our babies. It’ll be a metaphor to them, but it won’t be to us. They will be our two and only babies and we will hold them, if only in our hearts, as closely and tenderly as if they were newly wrapped and leaving the hospital for the first time for the rest of our lives.

But that will be it. The rest of our lives. The seemingly inexhaustible but ever diminishing time we have left with them, here amongst them, able to hug and be hugged is also being put into stark relief with each barrier breached and each new independence learned and granted. As they go through life reveling in the ever greater autonomy of being a ‘big boy’ another tiny tick passes and we are closer to the end. Not noticeably so, not always, but the big ones can pierce the bubble we’ve so happily stayed in during these early years. Can make us aware if not of our own ticking clocks then those of their time left in the bubble we’ve created and cared for and patched up and loved. As they grab life that is out there waiting for them we are hard pressed to let go of another tiny piece of it that we’d give anything to keep in our grasp til the end of time.

img_2930It’s joyous. I don’t want you to misunderstand. It’s a faint feeling of time passing and is easily overwhelmed by the joys we share as they start there journey’s. But it is a real feeling. A real sense of life’s passing. We are older parents and we aren’t so quick to let feelings slide passed as we once were. I suppose that’s true for all parents, regardless of age. But with the years we bring to the task comes a thought that this second act that will happen when they no longer need the minute to minute, the meal to meal, the day to day or week to week attention they once did may be more on the down slope of our time here, our time with them. It’s jarring to think, but comforting as well. As long as we can make it long enough to know they are safe, to know they are loved and to know that they know how wonderful this all is, than knowing this is the thing, being a parent and doing our best to make foster this family, we’re pretty happy having that be the thing we go out on. The last and best of what we did while we were so lucky to be here.img_2978

How I Measure

It’s in how I tell my tales
All of it
All of me is there
If you are ever curious

I measure my sorrow in tears
I measure my joy with them as well
Joy is in the laughs
As is some pain

I measure my love in work
And in hugs and kisses
Love is in kind words
It’s even found buried in hard ones

My anger is measured by words unspoken
And by words hidden away until no one is looking
Uttered loud enough for only me to hear
Anger I find is ignored with great effort, risking great peril

My thoughts are fleeting and measured by the sentence
I fill my glass of thoughts that come slowly
Then I pour out my glass all at once
I clean it and put it away.

I enjoy accomplishments
But they don’t tell any tale beyond the obvious
Accomplishment can’t sustain joy
Accomplishment measures accomplishment and little more

Experience is it’s own reward and should be noted
It is not to be questioned or diminished
A trip around the world can contain less experience than an evening on a porch
Either can be where the meaning of existence resides

Meaning is something only I can hold
My meaning is of my making
It is suited to me and fits only as well as I can make it
It’s an effort I find worth pursuing

In the end it’s love
It is the only meaning I can summon
The only purpose I can surmise
It fills the craters, it gives them meaning

Love is the only currency that has intrinsic value
It is the only true meaning
It is my sole accomplishment
It is my greatest failing

I sometimes hold it to close
I forget to give it away
I seem to think I can care for it and make it grow without ever letting it go
I am wrong. It’s only the giving of love that ever makes it grow

No one can tell me that love is finite
Love is endlessly regenerating
It is life that I must remember is finite and will only end in death
So I must measure my life by how much love I leave in its wake

Hello. Everythingisokay.

  I don’t think there’s a lot that could make me feel anything short of insanely lucky. My life is great. I have nothing to complain about and as a result I tend not to complain. But to say that life is an unending bowl of cherries, filled with joy and devoid of pain, lapping up happiness and shutting out fear and anxiety would also be untrue. 

My default position is of gratitude. I am thankful for all that’s been granted me.

I’m getting older. I’m not getting old, don’t mistake me. I’m just, you know, getting older. You are too. We all are and have always been. As I get older perspective evolves and I see things I never noticed before. My responses aren’t as quick as they once were, but they’re considerably better informed. I usually benefit from this. You could say I’m in a sweet spot where the benefits of maturing are still outrunning the detriment of decaying. I’m 42.

I’m incredibly thankful to have my young kids at this fairly advanced age for such an endeavour. The challenges are largely physical, if you discount the emotional and financial. My five year old, delightfully, falls asleep in our bed each night. It’s warm and wonderful and something we all love. I am starting to think, however, that he is becoming strategic in his placement atop our king sized bed in hopes of defeating me, getting me to throw up my hands in a moment of surrender and allow him to stay. I’m 6’2″ and 225 and strong and still I dread trying to lift his dead weight, sound asleep, 4 foot even, 56 pound body off the middle of that massive bed. But I do it, because I know the 3 year old is right behind him ready to awake to take up the one free space in our bed come sometime after midnight. 

These are things you don’t necesarrily see coming. There are a ton of others. But rarely are we warned of them and even if we are, we’re not really going to understand until we’re going through it. I solemnly swear, right here, out loud and in public, I will NEVER tell a parent of a newborn that it’s just as hard now. It’s not. Newborns, especially the first one, the one that teaches you everything in a nonstop round the clock barrage of ‘teachable moments’ what it means to be a parent, are life blower uppers. I fully believe that teenagers are as well. As for the rest, don’t believe those bitter, forgetful, wretched souls who try to convince you that they are as hard as 5 year olds. They aren’t. Not by a thousand miles. 

There are other things you learn along the way, about what life becomes. Again, I’m 42 and maybe some people have told me this before and I just wasn’t in a place to understand them. Maybe it’s too scary a thought to process, so you don’t. Maybe you’ve processed this long before I’ve had to as not everyone has the great good fortune that I so thankfully have had. 

I spend portions of everyday fearing that the phone will ring and the world will dissolve around me as I’m told that one or the other or both of my parents have died. My mom knows I suspect as we’ve had a couple of scares and, while nothing’s ever been said, perhaps she hears a fear I’m trying to hide in the way I say ‘hello’, that makes her hasten to say ‘hello,thisismomeverythingisokay.’ 

‘Hello. This is mom. Everything is okay.’ I have a family now and I understand, at least intellectually, how this all fits and works together, this whole circle of life thing. Until recently, last five and change years, to be exact, I’ve come off the stance of thinking to myself, I’d trade everything, including my own life, the own rest of my days, to make sure that is the last thing I hear before leaving this world. On speakerphone, knowing my dad is there listening and waiting to hear the latest stories of the boys successes, excited to tell me about an article he saw with awesome things my friends are doing in the community or them waiting to tell me about an author they think I’ll like or about the party they had the other night with some of the kids to say farewell to their grandson as he headed off for his Jack Kerouac/On The Road adventures. 

I don’t know that others feel this when the phone rings and they see it is their parents. Surely some are understanding of the whole thing and appreciative of hearing from mom and/or dad, as I most certainly am as well. Surely others in a similar situation are merely avoiding, imagining the whole thing impossible, choosing rather to continue to see their parents as the undefeatable, indefatigable pillars they’ve always known them to be, the way they still are, pushing off all thought of the matter until it is upon them. Sounds like a better way to me. Unfortunately I have a temperament that doesn’t allow for such ease of thinking. I can’t stop imagining. It’s a wonderful quality in so many circumstances, truly. But in this stage of life, for me, it’s impossible to put it fully out of mind. 

For me it’s like knowing the earth is going to stop turning on it’s axis and all life will cease to have meaning at some time in my future, in my lifetime, but I can’t know when. It’s just there. Waiting to catch me and remove the ground from beneath my feet. It’s going to hit my chest, hard. Iknow it will. I saw it happen to them. I saw there world crumble. I saw them cry and cry and not know what to do. It only lasted a few moments because they had to take care of me. I was just little after all, as were my brothers and sisters to greater and lesser degrees. But it showed up again as they had to go through the ceremonies and the condolences and the quiet nights alone when they might not have known I was still up and might be coming down to watch tv or grab a drink. Maybe I was exactly what they needed in that moment. I can’t imagine anything less than my own kids being the salvation that will keep me alive after the bomb lands on me. 

I’m fortunate. I’m in a position where I’ve never had to confront an issue so many I love have. My life is one of gratitude and as a child of my parents I’m sure I’ll make it to the finish line, my own finish line, one that will be hopefully at the end of a long and fruitful life as grateful as I am today. But by the time I get there I know I will have passed through times that will test that and I hope I can sustain the weight of all the good fortune I’ll have endured. 

I Don’t Want to Let Go

imageTeddy still babbles. He’ll sit with the Lego Duplo’s and play by himself and there is a stream of playful and emotive gibberish. He has started to use words and and pretend and play make believe with his creations and the figurines, but if I listen in the right way, if I’m able to listen loosely I can still hear the patter of the 2 year old he was.

Being a parent is a lot. Early on we weren’t up to the task. Seriously. We are excellent, loving parents. Any kid, and I mean any kid at all would be lucky to have us. But the truth is that as excellent as we are as parents, we just aren’t very good at it. We don’t revert naturally to routine. We don’t always provide excellent examples and we are just terrible at doing so many of the things that we are ‘supposed’ to do.

Our house is a mess and while it’s better than it was, it’s never gonna be an ordered and soothing environment. I like to think that has to do with our artistic bent, that our clutter and struggle to eliminate is an element of us that is strongly informed by our connectedness and the meaning we see all around us. Meaning that I turn into stories.

imageWe don’t sleep train. We shouldn’t have to at this point, frankly. Our kids are well past the age when that should not be a thing that needs doing. I’m afraid that if our kids are ever to get themselves to bed, it’s gonna happen on it’s own. For now we each take one and we snuggle and struggle and ultimately find them asleep sometime within a couple hours of getting them up the stairs and into their rooms. In my case, with the three year old it is sometimes in the chair after losing the fight of getting him to calm down in his bed. Other times it is both of us on the floor looking up at the green stars on the ceiling that emanate from Winnie’s honey pot when you press the bee. Sometimes we find the moon, other times we find the one constellation, an outline of Mickey Mouse’s head. Yep, Disney even invades their sleep. Still other times it’s on the ‘big boy bed’ the five year old will be moved to once I am able to solve this endlessly flummoxing Rubik’s Cube of a task that I am told should never have been allowed to get to this point. In my moments of confidence, a wonderful if fleeting thing when it comes to my life as a dad, I like to think that whatever we’re losing by not giving them normalized sleep routines is more than made up for by the love and feeling of security we’re giving them by never leaving.

imageWe are inconsistent practitioners of reward systems, a crime doubly indictable as I’ve been designing and implementing such programs for much of my 20+ year career. We don’t practice anything approaching appropriate self-care. The clothes are piled up, usually separated into piles that require sniff tests to determine whether they are clean or dirty. We take them into our bed and let them stay the night. Every time. We are wonderful parents to have as we never fail to give love. But we are just not very good at the component skills.

I’m not complaining. Well, not much. Now that our lives are this way I can honestly say there’s very little I would change. Perhaps I’d employ more consistent rewards or maybe I’d have a few more date nights. I’d certainly have a neater pile of clutter, that’s for sure. Okay, there’s a lot I’d change.

But I won’t, because at this point, this is who we are. We are fumbling through this thing together, imperfect as hell. I’m not saying we refuse to grow or we won’t change. We’re changing all the time, growing all the time. We’re just doing it together. At this point that means we’re messy, tired, together and happy.

imageI don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to hear through the coherent play and listen to the babbling that is working it’s way fully out of my son’s mouth. Truth is I might already have heard the last of it. That’s the thing. Nothing we do is going to stop them from growing up. Nothing I do will keep us from watching life slip ever past. The older they get and the older we get the more clear it becomes that none of it is forever. None of it lasts like I’d like it to.

It kills me to think that I’m ever going to step out, I’m ever going to be finished. With loving and watching and helping and messing up with my kids. That I’m ever going to walk away from my wife who I’ll never see again or that she’ll have to walk away from me. I don’t want any of this to change because for the first time since I was too young to understand the implications of it, I don’t want to ever die.

I want to live forever and never say goodbye. Never grow old. Never die. I want to live this life I have for a million lifetimes. Not some version of it, not some other life, but this one. Mine. With the same pains and the same joys. Now everyday that goes by where I don’t hear my boy babble, like the ones that came before he uttered a sound and relied on us for his every aspect of existence, every tiny change that moves some aspect of their lives to the past is a process. One of letting go. That is how we think of it.

I often think that parenthood is the first time it’s highlighted for you that so much of life is the process of constantly letting go. It is, but it also isn’t. It gives me some agency, some power, some sense that this is my choice. To let go. To slowly choose to hand away life one tiny handful at a time, knowing that at the end the last thing I’ll let go of will be life itself. It’s inevitable. It’ll be all I have left to hand over.

imageThat’s not how it is though, is it? I don’t want to let any of it pass. I want to live equally in the moments where I was three, sitting on my momma’s lap playing with her long hair that flowed out of her ’70’s style bandana, staring at the wooden cross hanging from a leather strap around her neck. I want to spend eternity smiling at the brown lunch bag my father drew pictures on just for me. I want to fall in love for the first time at 12 years old and play act what I thought it meant to lose it all. I want to feel lean and limber and strong and beautiful as I dance with a basketball unafraid of anyone who might wish to stop me. I want to be brash and cocky and altogether terrified on my first day of college and I want the world to open up to me at camp as I found what it was I’d do the rest of my life. I want to meet my wife, sit on those bar stools forever. Falling in love and diving into the unknown. I want to have my kids, meet them for the first time, and I want to watch them grow and marvel at the spectacle. I want all of this to be held. Why would I ever let go of this?

The answer is obvious. We ‘let go’ because we have no choice. Because we can’t choose to hold on. That being said, I want to get as much of this as I can. I want to watch my boy play on the floor with not a care in the world but what the little elephant on the back of his train that he built from Lego’s and imagination is going to do next. Forever.

 

 

My Kodachromatic Memories

I’ve had tightness in my chest and shallow breathing for going on a month. It’s largely a result of pollen and my bodies late life decision to no longer recognize that springtime friend that greeted me with joy for so many years as I thawed out from so many winters. What was once my friend, the dawning of life in the blooming and bursting nature outside my door is now my enemy, a predator and my body has chosen, without consulting me, to fight it using all the parts of me I can’t control as it’s shield.

It’s no big deal. It’s a minor pain in the ass that I forget about sometime in May and remember in early spring annually. The older I get the less invincible I am.

I’m changing jobs and as exciting as it is I’m taking on a massive new challenge. I’m looking forward to it and I’m thinking about it and the tightness in my chest feels a natural psychosomatic reaction as well. Though I know it isn’t. It’s merely my body deciding not to work like it once did. Same way the knees did when I tried to run the Brooklyn half 10 or more years ago. I made it one mile before hobbling to a train and turning to low impact ellipticals in the gym. The way my lithe and supple and strong body turned to a big and broad and strong body before turning to a big and unresponsive mass. Thankfully I’m told the heart keeps getting stronger even if it’s harder and harder to make what I see in the mirror reflect what I still think I am in my brain.

Getting older is hard for many reasons. The physical reason’s are a lot to be sure and I’ve only just begun that journey. Being where I am now, mid-career, early family and years from financial security is a constant struggle. The same one so many travel with me. But there’s also the dawning realizations that an active mind, one at rest and given a few minutes to contemplate can’t help but notice. For me it can happen in the car or at work or watching my kids in the back yard as they bounce from one thing to the next, bound by no laws of energy I’ve come to think of as universal since being bound by them years ago. It’s all gonna end and it’s gonna happen soon.

IMG_0030I love my kids beyond all reason. It’s the only way I know how to do it at this point. I understand that their are some terrible situations out there where children aren’t afforded that type of love and it shatters me when I hear of bad things, scary things happening to them. Things I could watch in movies or read about in the news years ago about terrible things happening to young children are no longer things I can ignore. I feel it now viscerally. Iit kills me now in a way it never could have before. It’s empathy for strangers and it’s hard to have at times, but it’s proof to me of some sort of reason for all this. My mind intellectualizes and thinks that reason is survival, we are here and our point is to survive. Even if that’s so, for me that contains within it what others find in God.

I’m a slightly older dad, but in a life so short as this one even slightly older has ramifications. Perhaps nostalgia just overtakes you at this age, I don’t know. What I know is that for me the overwhelming rush to nostalgia and the amplifying emotional response to it is something that came around the same time I had kids. In a real way they’ve been my greatest teachers about what life is all about. I’m living in a museum at this point. Our home is awash in the memories that will be those I sprint to as the ‘time of my life.’ This is the golden passage that will live longest in my mind, this time when we are a small, highly interdependent family who’s only plans, only one’s we can even imagine, revolve around all of us. Their will come a time when that isn’t so, which is sad to think about.

2015-02-28 22.31.44All the stuff to come actually has some sadness in it. For me at least. Because what’s next after our family is our slow walk away. We aren’t going to live forever. Even those of you firmly in belief that this is not it, that there is more after, surely even you must share some of the melancholy I can have when it hits me that what comes next isn’t this. This amazing life all opened up to me, when my kids want to hug me and read with me and kiss me and tell me they love me.

For me it’s good to remember that I’m going to die. It’s a positive reminder that what we don’t take and hold and cherish will be gone. Nostalgia is my guide as I look longingly back at the life I’ve lead to here and all that life yet to happen, yet to be stored in memory. We curate this museum in our minds, Karen and I. We arrange and rearrange the memories because we simply love to hold them. In doing so I’ve come to learn the value of my young memories.

2013-02-05 10.40.55In those memories of my youth the world is colored like 70’s and 80’s quality Kodak film and there are faded edges. My mother is there in her Jean bandana and my dad in t-shirt and Lee’s and we’re eating cereal from little boxes at picnic tables at Hamlin Beach, about fifteen miles from home. They had six kids and it was how we took some vacations. We loved them. or we’re at Hersheypark and loving the rides and smelling chocolate in the air. Or we’re all crammed into any of a series of station wagons driving down the highway on our way to adventures. I’m sitting in the back facing bench seat, crouched so my back is where my butt should be, so I can dangle my bare feet out the rear window, dangling in the Kodachromatic sun as the wind sweeps over the lot of us from all the open windows, always open in the summer, a thing we barely do anymore.

I have to visit there to keep my mom mommy and to see my dad as the ¬†strapping man much younger than I am now managing what I now am able to see was a circus of nonstop work, that I lived in and couldn’t possibly conceive of then. I have to go back there to keep the edges from fading in any further than they already have. These are the glory times of my life, just like these times are now, and for the rest of time I’ll return there, here, because I don’t want to go.

Life can only be lived forward and as far as I can tell it can only be lived once which is it’s only flaw. I used to think nostalgia was something silly people did who were afraid of life but I was dead wrong. It’s what lucky people do to remember all that was so graciously and gloriously bestowed on them.

Life, Death, Me and Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith is many things. Many of which might make it hard for someone to see his humanity. He’s a famous person, which seems to be enough of a reason for many to dismiss someone as a thinking, breathing, feeling person with 99.9% in common with the rest of us. He’s an artist as well, producing art and putting it in the world, another reason for people to feel not only dismissive of one’s humanity but entitled to say cruel things about something that a person clearly has put out as an extension of at least a part of themself. He’s also a vulgarian, a trait many of us find endearing but one that alienates many, I’m sure.

Whatever else he is he is also human. And tonight, while I was doing the dishes and listening to him eulogize his dear friend and colleague, Alan Rickman, I found myself crying. Tears falling and breath heaving in fits and starts as I listened to someone processing publicly, generously, their feelings of loss, their sadness and perhaps something so universal and personal as mortality.

Much of what I write about here is parenthood. I find it to be an experience that provides, amongst so many profound and beautiful and human things, a bridge to connectedness. I’m not a dogmatic believer and I’m not one prone to much magical thinking. What I am, like Mr. Smith, like you and like my kids and yours, is human.

One of the things I’ve learned with age is that humanity is capable of inspiring wonderment and awe. It can summon it’s natural state of curious sentience and without intending to draw out an emotional response from me, one that can take my breath away and instill emotion in me that can circle and swirl throughout my being and bring tears that I have no control over. I know that we are merely actors on a tiny stage in a giant universe and too often we can overestimate our capacity to know what meaning there is. What is not lost on us is love and death. The rest we get wrong a lot. But love and death, well, they amount to meaning to me. Meaning I can’t and don’t want to analyze or understand fully. Meaning that I want to live in and die amongst.

It’s strange to be in my 40’s with such young kids. I didn’t plan it this way, at least not from the start. But now that I’m here I’m privy to so much of life. Every day I revel in the world my children are discovering. Worlds full of what I’d mistakenly come to think of as ordinary and mundane before they retrained me. They are able to reintroduce me to the world and are able to reignite within me the spark of curiosity, the fire of creativity. They move me to joy and deliver an endless bounty of love to my life in between testing me by walking me to frustration and even occasionally nudging me toward rage. At the same time it’s a time of life when I can’t help but notice mortality. It’s creeping in at the edges of my life and it’s a present reality in the day to day lives of so many people I care about. I have visions of my parents at my own kids graduations and weddings and even holding their great grandkids someday. I can even imagine them at my funeral, one where I’m being interred at a ripe old age having died of too much life. I can imagine myself dying. That seems natural to me. But even in my minds eye I see my parents there looking down lovingly on me, happy to have known me, sad I won’t be around anymore. It’s crazy, but it’s true. Because I live in denial and fear, the knowledge, like so many of the rest of us do, those of us still able to hug our parents and tell them that we love them, that a day will come when my world will die and it will be at once the most natural and human experience one can imagine and it will also be the most devastatingly painful reality I can conceive of while still being able to live.

I cried tonight listening to someone share what it means to be human. When I was younger I couldn’t cry. Now I can and I do. If I’m really moved it’s like a fit of uproarious laughter. I can’t control it. I can stop thinking about the funny thing, but eventually I have to think of it again, and when I do, the tears and gut busting roars of laughter come right back and they won’t go until they are done, regardless of my schedule. It’s kind of wonderful. Likewise, feeling the pain, or sorrow, or whatever emotion it is that emanates from others when they are hurting also arrives and departs on it’s own schedule. This empathy is meaning to me. It’s a style of connecting and it’s redemptively human. It’s why we grieve communally. It’s how we express respect. It’s how we honor each other. It’s how we share humanity. ¬†It’s empathy and it’s what keeps us together and unites us in the end. We all can empathize with loss. We all will succumb to mortality and if we are all lucky we will all know love in many forms.

Kevin Smith lost a friend last month. A dear friend and each and everyone of us knows what that means. It is what makes us special. It’s what makes our lives have meaning.

I am so very sorry for your loss, Mr. Smith. I hope that in time you will be able to tell the stories of your friend and feel at least an ounce of comfort in feeling his presence again and having a laugh with him, or even a cry, from time to time.